Springville • Of all the highlights of Utah’s fall scenery, the sand trap may be the best.
The café at Hobble Creek Golf Course overlooks No. 10, a 3-piece hole that tapers off the slope into a green area surrounded by trees of assorted colors that are just beginning to appear.
The Utah High School Activities Association made this discovery nearly 50 years ago, moving the golf season from spring to fall, when courses were less crowded and the weather was more predictable. The bonus, as golfers of all ages have learned, is the views offered by the hillside and valley courses. It becomes especially stunning in the calendar window when the leaves change.
Assistant Pro Brett Weston said the way the yellow, orange and red leaves frame the green trails of Wasatch Mountain GC in Midway “will almost take your breath away.”
Hobble Creek, Wasatch Mountain, and Salt Lake’s Mountain Dell are the traditional answers when Utah public course golfers are asked to rank the best fall landscapes. In an informal poll conducted by the Salt Lake Tribune this month, Gladistan in Payson and Mount Ogden completed the top five, amid plenty of competition.
A closer look at these five, plus others worth considering:
The logic seemed sound. A golf course located 12 miles from the BYU campus was likely to be wide open in mid-September on Saturday when the Cougars were playing in a televised game for the top 25 soccer teams. An afternoon filled tee paper challenged this theory. “It never stops,” said pro Craig Norman, amazed, and that was before the cards really started to turn.
The natural setting of Hobble Creek Canyon characterizes the Norman Trail, where the hillside forms a southern boundary. So maple trees appear on almost every shot, starting with the first ride of the day. The 3-position holes are amazingly landscaped, with trees surrounding the greenery.
The 36-hole facility in Wasatch Mountain State Park is another phenomenon of Utah golf, and it’s a popular all-season destination course. Autumn makes the mountain track especially attractive. Weston said the high tee of the par-5 No. 12 It has “a great view of the track, park, Midway and Heber Valley.”
The Lake Course is a garden layout, but it is also surrounded by a variety of trees.
Salt Lake City’s 36-hole facility may provide the best view of golf courses in the country seen from an Interstate Highway. The westbound I-80 is particularly rewarding, starting with views of Par-3 No. 13 at Canyon Stadium, on the eastern edge of the property.
As for actually playing Mountain Dell, each 18-hole layout has its own perks, while overlapping just enough to prevent any golfer from feeling cheated. A good example of this is Lake Course #17, a 3-bar slope played in a bowl of trees.
Located near Payson Canyon in the Elk Ridge area, Gladstan markets itself as a “hidden gem.” The loyal sponsors of the municipal session are torn between promoting the session and wanting to keep it secret; They certainly responded to The Tribune’s poll.
The design flows through canyons and valleys, with many of the nine back holes in the mountainside. Every 10-15 shot comes with a great scene. A raised 12th green provides a view of the entire trail and valley below, while the back tee of Figure 5 No. 14 provides a 360-degree view of the landscape.
The same elements that make Mount Ogden a challenging path create a whole other dimension in fall on the Ogden East Seat. The trees encroaching on the walkways on either side become as much an attraction as they become a danger.
When asked to identify his favorite views of the course at this time of year, Mt. Ogden pro Todd Brinkman, “All holes are great.”
abundant edge: The topography of the hillsides and a tree-lined design such as Mount Ogden, although the width of the waterway is generally more favorable.
Park City: The higher elevation naturally causes a change of colors earlier in the season than in valley places.
Soldier Hollow: It might seem odd to include a path where trees don’t play, but the slope of the hill—especially looking at Mount Timpanogos on No. 15 and 16 of the Golden Course—creates a picturesque backdrop in Midway.
Wolf Creek Resort: The valley setting in Eden near Pineview Reservoir is always great. This is even more true in the fall, as the back nines wind through the trees.
Hollow sand: Like Soldier Hollow, the lack of trees isn’t necessarily a disadvantage in southern Utah. Late autumn sunlight adds to the contrast between the red rocks and green trails.